The 2021 Champions League final is fascinating in so many ways: two English heavyweights, two of the most expensive teams on the planet, Manchester City’s quest for their very first Champions League, two elite managers face off, Chelsea’s two recent victories over Man City and, of course, America’s all-time best player on the world’s biggest club stage.
The books give Manchester City the advantage (-115 to gain regulation and -250 to win the cup). They are, after all, the defending champions of the English Premier League and considered by many to be the best team in the world today. After their poor start to the season and recent stumbles, Chelsea just don’t have the same status. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a hotly contested final.
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Chelsea vs Manchester City odds for 2021 Champions League final
A familiar cliché emerges ahead of the One-Game Soccer Finals: Expect to see cautious teams, tight defenses, and few scoring opportunities. But there is reason to believe that could be the case on Saturday.
Manchester City and Chelsea have conceded the fewest goals of any team in the English Premier League: 32 (xGA 31.3) and 36 (xGA 32.8) respectively. Credit the world-class defenders and goalies on either side, and the tactical structure the two managers have designed to make the most of it.
And at least for one of the finalists, scoring isn’t always easy. Chelsea have had their share of struggles crafting goals when they needed them. Timo Werner (10 goals against 18.1 expected by FBref), the leading striker last summer, has had to endure a lot of criticism, although the quality of the service has not always been there .
And it may help to remember that the other two occasions we had an all-English final were also low scoring affairs: Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in 2019, but that second goal came in the 87th minute. In 2008, Manchester United needed a penalty shootout to beat Chelsea after a 1-1 draw in regulation.
MORE: Your 2021 Champions League cheat sheet
Here are some chances to play the low scoring trend:
Odds courtesy of DraftKings and based on the outcome of the 90 minute settlement
- Total goals Man City-Chelsea Under 1.5: +200
- Total goals Man City-Chelsea Under 2.5: -157
- Man City 0, Chelsea 1: +900
- Man City 1, Chelsea 0: +510
- Man City Under 0.5 goals scored: +310
- Chelsea Under 0.5 goals scored: +128
Win at zero (for example via shutout)
- Chelsea win to zero: +575
- Man City to win at zero: N / A
Chelsea or Man City: who scores first?
If you buy into the low scoring thesis and link it to the records of both teams when they score first, then an obvious betting angle emerges.
When Chelsea scored the first goal this season in all competitions, they have 17 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. Manchester City have won 41 of the 45 games they score first. Safe to say, as it is in most finals, the first goal is going to be huge. Here’s how the teams fared as they took the lead in the last 20 Champions League finals:
- Victories: 12
- Prize draws: 5 (all decided by penalties)
- Losses: 2 (Atletico Madrid in 2014 and Arsenal in 2006)
At the time of publication, you can still get more money on the two teams that score first and win. If you believe in the trend, it is possible to play both ways and stand out.
To score first and win:
- Chelsea: +380
- Manchester City: +106
MORE: Why Pulisic in Champions League Final is a Big Deal
Bets on the Champions League final: Offside and Timo Werner
Werner’s penchant for being caught offside or having a goal canceled for offside has become something of a common joke in Chelsea games. But his manager and German compatriot, Thomas Tuchel, is not embarrassed: he loves that Werner (photo below) presses, harasses and stretches the opposing defenses. The fast forward constantly straddles this defensive line in the hope of being thrown onto the pitch. This is his game.
It’s no surprise, then, that Chelsea have committed the second-highest total of offside offenses in the last 38-game Premier League season (80 offside times). Werner was responsible for 26 of those instances, good for the 4th highest total of all players.
In a game where Chelsea are likely to cede control to Manchester City and look to move quickly into the open field via Werner and Christian Pulisic, we could see the offside flag appear multiple times. (Note: Werner was caught offside against Man City twice in their FA Cup semi-final and three times in the last league game.)
- Timo Werner on 1.5 offside offense: +140
- Chelsea’s offside total over 2.5 (including overtime): +100
Prediction Chelsea vs Manchester City
Some of Chelsea’s best performances this season have come when they are not the ones that have to ‘make’ the game or break the opponent. They can let the game come to them against Manchester City and choose their moments to deal damage in transition.
Manchester City are the best team in the world today and play the best football. A first Champions League trophy would be a fair reward. But in a 90 minute final, they’ll need the major rebounds to keep going and that’s never guaranteed.
Spreading money on both sides of the “score first and win” remains my favorite game. I would also roll the dice on a double chance for Chelsea (Chelsea win and regular draw) at -106.